Despite Syria Agreement, Obama’s Grassroots Group Gathers At Boehner’s Office

The rally will focus on the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have been pushing to either defund or shut down the government

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Jonathan Ernst / REUTERS

People rally on the sidewalk as legal arguments over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act take place at the Supreme Court in Washington, March 26, 2012.

The debate in Syria may have created some odd bedfellows, but there is no cease-fire in the partisan message war that divides the country.

President Barack Obama’s grassroots group, Organizing for Action, is hosting a rally at House Speaker John Boehner’s home office in West Chester, Ohio on Friday, even though Boehner has decided to back the President’s call for congressional authorization of military action in Syria.

The focus of the event is the Affordable Care Act, which the President’s supporters back and Boehner hopes to repeal. Organizing for Action (OFA) has not yet taken a position on the Syrian invasion, and do not plan to discuss the issue at the rally. “OFA supports President Obama and the agenda that Americans voted for on November 6, but we don’t always actively organize around every issue,” executive director Jon Carson said on a grassroots call on Tuesday. “The debate in Congress over the Syria vote is not one that OFA is planning on organizing around.”

But the pro-Obamacare rally itself is not something Speaker’s office is too enthused about, as his spokesmen made clear to reporters in a string of emails Thursday afternoon.

Ron Irvine, an Organizing for America volunteer and the host of Friday’s rally in Ohio, says despite what the Boehner camp thinks, this event is totally appropriate and on message. “We’re supporting the Affordable Care Act because we think it’s a great thing,” Irvine told TIME. “The Syria situation is extremely serious, but people also hold this issue to their heart.”

At the rally, set to last from 1:30 to 4 p.m., organizers will also be discussing the issues of climate change, gun violence, and immigration reform according to the website. All of those policy debates have created tensions between the White House and the House Republican leadership.

While the Congressional decision on Syria will certainly occupy decision-making within Congress for the first days after lawmakers return from recess on Monday, members of the House only have nine legislative days to both decide on Syria and pass a continuing resolution on funding before the Sept. 30 deadline.

Threats from a block of Republicans to either shutdown the government or defund Obama’s health care legislation filled the summer recess, with 80 Republican representatives sending a letter to Boehner urging him to defund Obamacare in late August. While Boehner is opposed to shutting down the government over Obamacare, as an outspoken adversary of the law, he has become a target of OFA activism.

Friday marks the last organizing event of the Congressional summer recess, during which, according to the OFA website, volunteers have held 2,500 events on immigration reform and attended town halls in North Carolina, Nevada, and Pennsylvania on the Affordable Care Act.